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Comm Flight transitions base to virtual working during COVID Pandemic

139th Airlift Wing Communication’s Flight steps up to transition the base to virtual working during the COVID Pandemic

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jessica Ryder non-commissioned officer in charge for the Focal Point team, 139th Communications Flight, Missouri Air National Guard, poses for a photo in front of computers at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, in St. Joseph, Missouri, April 23, 2021. Ryder lead the team responsible in transitioning base communications to teleworking capabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Patrick Evenson)

ROSECRANS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mo. --

When COVID-19 entered the scene last year, the 139th Airlift Wing, like many organizations, moved to a virtual work environment to ensure the safety of its members, their families, and communities. The 139th Communication Flight knew that they had a mountain of work ahead in order to transition the base to teleworking while maintaining mission readiness.

Master Sgt. Jessica Ryder is the non-commissioned officer in charge for the Focal Point team that works between the shops, end-users, the base as a whole and National Guard Bureau. Ryder and her team are responsible for troubleshooting and fixing trouble tickets, tracking SIPR tokens, and just about any other IT issues that users may need help with.

While it was stressful to transition the full-time members to virtual working, Ryder said setting up all the traditional Guard members to drill remotely was an incredibly difficult task.

“We had to set members up to work remotely with government-issued laptops, or we had to guide members on how to set up a VPN or CVR so they could work from their home computers,” said Ryder.

The communications team consists of 13 full-time IT technicians and four help desk technicians who all came together to expedite the transition.

“These technicians stepped up for work that was out of their realm in order to make the technology work ensuring we maintained a mission-ready status,” Ryder said. “I was sincerely impressed with the members, as hard as it was for us during this period, it was even harder for them.

The Communication teams work didn’t go unnoticed by leadership. Chief Master Sgt. Patrick Jenkins, the 139th’s cyber operations manager, remarked about the teams drive to make the transition as seamless as possible.

“I am incredibly proud of the energy and time this team put in to get the job done,” Jenkins said. “The technicians were able to come together while working from home in order to ensure the Wing’s mission didn’t miss a beat”.

The base is returning to the normal these days. The full-time staff are back at their desks, traditional Guardsmen are back in uniform during regularly scheduled drills, but the mission is the same. The mission of the 139th Airlift Wing is the same as it always has been, as it remained last year and it will continue being. Situations might change, but the adaptable force of the men and women of the 139th Airlift Wing, bring meaning to the mantra, “always ready, ever willing.”